Avodah Mailing List

Volume 32: Number 33

Mon, 03 Mar 2014

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 18:17:55 GMT
Re: [Avodah] Why does Moshe use logical arguments when

R' Micha Berger wrote:

>         In the section "Havchanas haZeman", Rav Dessler points
> out that time passes as a function of the number of experiences we
> have. When we have more experiences, we have more opportunities
> for choice, for fulfilling desires.
> But while man's choice now revolves around many issues, Adam qodem
> hacheit [AQH] had only one choice, and therefore didn't have the
> same connection to the flow of time. [pg. 151] We can not
> understand what time was like to AQH.

I responded:

> It seems to me that three distinct ideas are being conflated here:
> a) experiences
> b) choices
> c) choices between tov and ra

I mentioned (c) merely because it is a choice that we humans have After The
Chet, but it was not a choice open to Adam Kodem Hachet. (It's also not a
choice available to animals, who in my opinion do make choices that *don't*
involve tov and ra.)

My main point was to point out that (a) and (b) are very different things,
but I don't see REED making any sort of distinction. Or I don't follow what
the distinction is.

A new experience interrupts one's thoughts, and creates a new awareness,
and one might say that this is the awareness of the passage of time. I had
thought REED was talking about *external* experiences, and so I was
bothered by my observation that a bored person (who lacks any external
experiences) feels the passage of time even more acutely. I thank RMB for
pointing out that "experiences" in this context can include one's internal
thoughts, and the abundance of them is exactly what makes time so slow for
the bored person.

But what does this have to do with choice? If we are defining time in terms
of the flow of experiences, what does it matter whether I am a passive
observer or an active choice-wielding participant?

Prior to the Chet, Adam was very busy choosing names for all the animals.
These were not tov/ra choices, but very much in the emes/sheker area,
analyzing the essence of each creature and assigning a name to that
essence. Were these not experiences which would cause him to feel the
passage of time? When he came to the realization that the other animals had
mates but he didn't, wasn't this an experience which would define time for
him? And even the other things he did in the garden, l'avdah ul'shamrah, or
even just relaxing and enjoying - why don't these experiences count?

Akiva Miller
Never Eat This Carb
Literally Never! 1 Easy Tip to Increase Fat Burning, Lower Blood Sugar

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 13:54:45 -0500
[Avodah] Origin and Cure of a Desire vs Prohibition of the

Somehow, a discussion on Areivim got me to wrote the following about
homosexual desire:
:> Innate vs learned, curable vs permanent, and logically prohibitable vs
:> not are to my mind three distinct concepts.

On Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 10:35am PST, R Saul Newman replied there:
: of these 3 [and i would  rewrite the second as 'controllable'
: rather than 'curable'], i think all just about all O jews would take the
: latter 2 as given -- that it's assur, and one must work to control it.

I decided that since the following reply leans heavily on RYSalanter, it
belongs here.

I meant curable -- not just that a person can act otherwise, what Or
Yisrael calls kibbush hayeitzer, but eliminating the desire for issur,
tiqun hayeitzer.

WRT controllability, G-d wouldn't prohibit something beyond the person's
control. It has to be at least partially controllable, so that a person
could be effectively commanded to minimize the number of violations. So
the two ideas are not entirely distinct.

However the cause of a desire and the possibility of its elimination
say nothing about the plausability of Hashem's prohibiting it, as long
as kibbush is indeed an option.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
mi...@aishdas.org        excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org   'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (270) 514-1507      trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Message: 3
From: "Joseph Kaplan" <jkap...@tenzerlunin.com>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 20:04:44 -0500
[Avodah] R. Soloveitchik and protest

"I have no idea whether [RYBS] consulted experts on this subject. I do know
that he regularly received briefings from the Israeli consulate and no doubt
had contact with other sources of information."

What I was told a long time ago by a reliable source was that he did,
indeed, consult with the Israeli consulate.  However, they told him that
protests were harmful and should be discouraged.  And years later he told
some of his earlier talmidim who had asked him about protests that he
learned that what he was told  was not accurate, but rather  was said for
their own political reasons and that he did not forgive them for giving him
misleading information.  (This goes back to early to mid 60s, an earlier
time period than R. late 60's and early '70s.)



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Message: 4
From: saul newman <newman...@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2014 12:41:52 -0800
[Avodah] knowing too much

http://www.torahmusings.com/2014/02/losing-tinok-shenishba-status/  the
parameters for how much one knows to lose the tinok shenishba excuse.
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Message: 5
From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer <r...@aishdas.org>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 22:36:14 -0500
Re: [Avodah] R. Soloveitchik and protest

On Wed, 26 Feb 2014 20:04:44 -0500 "Joseph Kaplan"
<jkap...@tenzerlunin.com> wrote:
> What I was told a long time ago by a reliable source was that [RYBS] did,
> indeed, consult with the Israeli consulate.  However, they told him that
> protests were harmful and should be discouraged.  And years later he told
> some of his earlier talmidim who had asked him about protests that he
> learned that what he was told  was not accurate, but rather  was said for
> their own political reasons and that he did not forgive them for giving him
> misleading information.  (This goes back to early to mid 60s, an earlier
> time period than R. late 60's and early '70s.)

Not sure I understand. Who was he not forgiving for giving him inaccurate
information? And what information was inaccurate?

Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer <r...@aishdas.org>

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Message: 6
From: David Riceman <drice...@optimum.net>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2014 20:39:35 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Time for the Deceased


"V'habit el amal lo suchal" is not a statement of His abilities. It is a desperate plea: How can You look at such things?!?!

new JPS "You whose eyes are too pure to look upon evil" (compare Radak)

Me again:

Are you familiar with any clearly subjunctive uses of "yachol" in Tanach?


Lo tuchal latet alecha ish nochri.  I don't think anyone suggests that
it isn't possible.

This isn't parallel to RAM's suggestion.  Instead it's a distinction
between what GEM Anscombe calls facts and brute facts.	You can't change
the prospective king's legal status.


And just to add, l'habit is different than lir'ot in the same way that
the verbs "see" and "look" are different in English.  Seeing is a simple
sensory thing, while looking implies intent or focus.

Except that both of the psukim I cited use l'habit and lirot in parallel constructions.


Can you say the converse?  Does the word "choose" even pertain to God
when He's not time bound?

Sure; he can set up initial conditions.  See MN II:18 about the velocity of the spheres.


I can.  It's a midrash, and no one ever thought Hashem looked at it like
a blueprint literally.

Please tell us what it does mean, not what it doesn't mean.


I honestly don't know what you're asking. Could you please rephrase? Are
you suggesting that Tanach does talk about His abilities, or that it
doesn't? (I'm also not sure exactly what the subjunctive is in English, or
how it would appear in Hebrew.)

I'm suggesting that using yachol in what you construe to be a rhetorical question is unusual syntax for Biblical Hebrew.


I would add at least one more: Things that can't be done because they are
definitionally not possible. This category, in my view, includes things
like the rock which is so heavy that God can't lift it, or a rectangle that
has 7.4 sides.

That's the Rambam's opinion.  I started to doubt it after I learned enough
non-Euclidean geometry to realize that there are metrics which allow square
circles (one of the classical examples).  But I concede that it is


Are you asking if God freely chose what abilities He has, and what
abilities He doesn't have? I don't know. It's a question without much
meaning to it, because He is eternal. Not having a beginning, it is
difficult for me to consider how to talk about the abilities that He
started out with. Maybe you're asking something else.

I am suggesting that the navi is saying that looking at evil is beneath God, and that that is essential to God's role.

David Riceman

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Message: 7
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2014 21:07:58 -0600
Re: [Avodah] Time for the Deceased

On 2/27/2014 7:39 PM, David Riceman wrote:
> RLL:
> I can.  It's a midrash, and no one ever thought Hashem looked at it like
> a blueprint literally.
> Please tell us what it does mean, not what it doesn't mean.

Well, see, that's the thing about midrash.  There isn't necessarily one 
meaning.  I can tell you what I understand it to mean, but YMMV.

It boils down to intent.  What was Hashem's intent for the world? We can 
say as a truism that He created the world according to His intent.  His 
intent /was/ the blueprint for Creation.  So when the midrash says that 
He used the Torah as a blueprint for Creation, the meaning seems to be 
that the Torah contains and reflects Hashem's intent for all of 
Creation.  That it isn't merely a set of laws and lore for us, but that 
it affects and informs the entirety of existence.  It's a heady thought, 
but it fits nicely with what the Rambam says in Hilchot Teshuva about 
the world being in balance and how one act of good or bad can tilt the 
whole world this way or that.

I've heard it said that when someone violates Hashem's mitzvot, they 
damage themselves spiritually, they damage the entire Jewish People, and 
they damage the very fabric of Creation.  It's one of the reasons why 
converting someone is such a serious issue.

And all of that comes out of that midrash, among other places.  I'm sure 
there's more to it than that, but that seems like the simplest explanation.


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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 06:23:24 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Time for the Deceased

On Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 08:39:35PM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
> RLL:
>> And just to add, l'habit is different than lir'ot in the same way that
>> the verbs "see" and "look" are different in English.  Seeing is a simple
>> sensory thing, while looking implies intent or focus.

> Except that both of the psukim I cited use l'habit and lirot in
> parallel constructions.

I think this whole discussion has gone far off-base.

G-d doesn't have eyes.

G-d doesn't see or look.

Recall again the Rambam's two classes of attributes about G-d:
1- What He isn't
2- How His "Actions" (for want of a better word) appear to man

RSG also had, and I think many mequbalim would also add
3- attributes of how He relates to us.

The difference being whether Hashem acts in a way that looks like Rachamim
(Rambam) or that G-d created a relationship and that relationship includes
actual rachamim (RSG).

Ra'ah and hibit WRT are appearances, not actual seeing or looking.

For that matter, HQBH is not within time -- say, infinitely old and
endless -- He is lemaalah min hazeman. The entire concept of "when" is
meaningless. G-d Knows our actions. Not Knows after we do it. Not even
that he Knows before we do it. Because there is no "before" and "after"
in teh discussion until we get to His Actions and how He relates to us.
So how can we talking about Hashem learning things in the sense of
having less knowledge in the past than in the future. The whole idea
of aquiring knowiledge through sight or watching doesn't work.

So I would say that we are describing Hashem as not acting on our
sins, and not looking for sins to punish.

> Sure; he can set up initial conditions. See MN II:18 about the velocity
> of the spheres.

Now we get to a part of the Rambam's philosphy that I don't think
fits in a non-Aristotilean worldview. Because the Rambam's spheres
have to have intellect in order to continue that velocity. There
is no conservation of angular momentum in his physics, there are
intellects continuing to impart impetus to make it move.

>> I would add at least one more: Things that can't be done because they
>> are definitionally not possible. This category, in my view, includes
>> things like the rock which is so heavy that God can't lift it, or a
>> rectangle that has 7.4 sides.

> That's the Rambam's opinion. I started to doubt it after I learned
> enough non-Euclidean geometry to realize that there are metrics which
> allow square circles (one of the classical examples). But I concede
> that it is plausible.

Although they aren't really conflicting, since they're all instances of
a single broader geometry, describing differently shaped spaces. Can
Hashem create a rectangle with 7.4 sides in a flat space?

Example, if you head north from the equator to the pole, make a
90 deg turn, head south back to the equator, and then travel 1/4 a way
around the world, you traveled a triangle that had 270 deg. If you make
a smaller triangle on the globe, it will have fewer degrees, but always
more than 180. Now what about a space shaped like that -- a 3D space
that was shaped like the surface of a 4D sphere?

Can HQBH make a triangle of exactly 180 degrees in such a curved space
-- eg can he make three great cricles on a globe intersect in that way?

And wouldn't answering my last question tend to end up an argument
in semantics, in defining whether "triangle" has meaning when traveling
a globe, or in a curved space, or if one really has rectangles in
a space where they'd end up with 7.4 sides.

So, by going meta we can preserve the Rambam's question.

For that matter, a shape with a fractional number of sides in any
space? In other words, that part of the question may be more a logical
paradox than the rectangle vs non-4 aspect.

I had a similar experience but even more meta, when I learned about
non-boolean logics. Especially once I learned that Quantum Logic actually
describes reality (in some extremely small cases) better than the kind
developed by Aristo and Boole. The lab has produced violations of the law
of contradiction -- that something is either A or not-A but never both.
The idea of paradox itself isn't true in every logic.

As R Aryeh Kaplan writes in an essay about the rock too heavy for even
He to lift, the Rambam believes that logic is part of Truth, and thus
of Hashem's Essence. He cannot violate logic. Omnipotence means
doing everything logically meaningful, a "round triangle" is a bunch
of non-sense sounds, not something He can or can't do. In contrast
to the Ramchal who says that logic is itself a created entity,
and Hashem isn't even subject to logic.

I do not see this in RAK's essay, but I'll add that it's notable that
all this analysis of logics with no Law of Contradiction and/or Law
of Exclusuded Middle started just after the Ramchal's day. His line of
reason would have been much harder to come up with in an earlier era.

> I am suggesting that the navi is saying that looking at evil is beneath
> God, and that that is essential to God's role.

I would change that statement to being about His responding in a way
that does not acknowledge that He sees evil, and even looks for it in
the sense of acting as Judge / Doctor of evil.


Micha Berger             Brains to the lazy
mi...@aishdas.org        are like a torch to the blind --
http://www.aishdas.org   a useless burden.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                 - Bechinas haOlam

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Message: 9
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 08:33:27 -0500
[Avodah] A Tale of Two Adars - Computations and Calculations

 From http://ohr.edu/holidays/purim/laws_and_customs/5744

As the month of Adar is the only one in the Jewish calendar that gets 
twinned (7 years out of every 19)[1], every time such a leap year 
occurs, aside for the 'Mishenichnas Adar' celebrations, there is also 
cause for concern and calculations. Although the Gemara[2] concludes 
that all Purim-related observances (including the Arba Parshiyos) are 
celebrated in Adar Sheini, in order that the Geulah (Redemption) from 
Haman (Purim) and the Geulah from Egypt (Pesach) should be observed 
in consecutive months, nevertheless, figuring out in which Adar other 
life cycle events such as Bar Mitzvahs and Yahrtzeits should be 
observed, is quite complicated.

Who Is Truly Older?

It is widely known that adding a leap year into the mix always has 
interesting Bar Mitzvah ramifications. The majority consensus is that 
if a boy was born in a non-leap year, one in which there was only one 
Adar, and on the year of his Bar Mitzvah there are two Adars, his Bar 
Mitzvah will occur in the second Adar, since it is considered the 
true one concerning when one becomes a man[3]. The same holds true if 
the lad was actually born in Adar Sheini. In fact the only way one 
would celebrate a Bar Mitzvah in the first Adar is if he was actually 
born in an Adar Rishon. This is the accepted ruling by all 
authorities, both Ashkenazic and Sefardic.

This makes for a remarkable dichotomy. If one boy is born on the 21st 
of Adar Rishon, and his buddy a week and a half later on the 2nd of 
Adar Sheini, then in any standard year following, the second one 
would be celebrating his birthday almost 3 weeks before his "older" 
friend. Since there is only one Adar, the second-born's birthday 
would be the 2nd of Adar while his "older" friend's would be on the 
21st. In fact, only in a leap year would the older one truly be 
considered older. This would also affect their Bar Mitzvahs. If their 
Bar Mitzvah is in a standard year, the younger lad would become a man 
several weeks before his older compadre[4].

See the above URL for more.  YL

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Message: 10
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 08:51:39 -0500
[Avodah] Dining Out ? Eating Kosher

 From http://www.jerusalemkoshernews.com/2014/02/7189/

The following is a translation of a document 
prepared by the <http://kosharot.co.il/>Kosharot 
Organization headed by Rabbi Elyakim Levanon 
Shlita. Rabbi Levanon is the Rav of Elon Moreh in 
Shomron and the Chief Rabbi of the Shomron 
Regional Council. He is a senior posek in the dati leumi community.

I would like to use this forum to add that in my 
dealings with Kosharot, I found the organization 
to be transparent, upright and simply reliable in 
every aspect of kashrus. The rav/posek, Rabbi 
Moshe Katz, is a sought-after lecturer on kashrus 
around Eretz Yisrael and the organization 
continues working to educate the public as well 
as providing kosher supervision for events at a 
minimal cost to ensure one?s simcha is what one expects it to be.

NOTE: When I refer to the Halachic text in the 
translated document, I write ?Shulchan Aruch?. 
When referring to the piskei Halacha of Maran, 
who is referred to as ?Shulchan Aruch? by 
Kosharot, I will write ?Beis Yosef? to avoid confusion.

I will also add that if one eats in a restaurant 
with a reliable hashgacha, many of the issues 
discussed in the report are covered by the 
hashgacha. This document is intended to empower 
readers as what to look for and to provide a 
better understanding to what some of the concerns should be when eating out.

Below please find both documents in PDF format, 
the original Kosharot report (Hebrew) and the English translation.

out ? Kosharot ? Feb. 11, 2014

The Hebrew is at 

I note the following from page 2 of the English translation:

"Every person must learn and research for himself in consultation with
one?s rabbi regarding the appropriate level of kashrus he wishes to
maintain. This will permit one to decide which level is appropriate from the
basic to the most stringent."

My personal experience has been that most people 
do not do any research and rely on Rav Alleh 
-  Alleh essen du (Everybody eats there.)

Yesterday I  called up a yeshiva that is making a 
Melava Malka  tomorrow night and asked who gives 
the supervision on the place where the Melava 
Malka will be held.  There were some moments 
of  silence,  and then I was transferred to 
someone else.  When I asked about the 
supervision,  the reply was "Many of my friends 
have made affairs at this place."   I pointed out 
that this meant relying on Rav Alleh.

The person I spoke to told me they would get back 
to me.  As of now,  I have not been called back.

Caveat Emptor!  YL

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Message: 11
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2014 14:53:49 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Philosophers and philosophy

On Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 02:12:37AM +0000, Kenneth Miller wrote:
: By analogy, I can easily see how famous philosophers can be helpful
: in figuring out certain things. But like the scientists, philosophers
: can be wrong too. There's a BIG difference between *rabbanim* utilizing
: non-Jewish philosphy, and *me* utilizing it. I am totally okay with
: the Rambam or RYBS studying Aristotle and then passing it on to me...

:> WRT Rambam, like REED, it's not guesswork. The Rambam quite clearly
:> credits Aristo. He invokes "qabel es ha'emes mimi she'omro" (into
:> to Avos) to justify it.
: Perhaps my use of the work "guesswork" was too strong. I *do* understand
: that philosophy is a rigorous and difficult field...

I think that in the exchange, to much time passed for me to use the
preposition "it" and you lost track of the "guesswork.

I'm saying that the attribution of Rambam's idea to Aristo is the
Rambam's, and the attribution of REED's to secular philosophy is REED's,
and then R' Aryeh Carmell names which philosopher.

I wasn't guessing that Kant and REED were on the same page, or that
the Rambam was reading (ibn Rushd's translation of) Aristo.

Ibn Rushd is relevant, as most believe it was his version of
Aristotileanism that the Rambam is relating to. To the extent that many
people think of the Rambam as an neo-Platonist, ie someone who draws
from Plotinus's somewhat-Plato-based philosopy. And non-coincidentally,
ibn Rushd's translation of Aristo's Metaphysics (the book) into Arabic
includes much of Plotinus's Enniads.


Micha Berger             Like a bird, man can reach undreamed-of
mi...@aishdas.org        heights as long as he works his wings.
http://www.aishdas.org   But if he relaxes them for but one minute,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      he plummets downward.   - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 12
From: "Chana Luntz" <Ch...@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2014 23:56:57 -0000
Re: [Avodah] Nature of the tana'atic machlokus regarding

I wrote:
: I'm afraid this is not correct.  But rather indeed the fundamental
: is issur versus reshus.  

And RMB replied:

>After reading your long erudite post (thank you) I still disagree.

>The fundamental machloqes is reshus vs chiyuv. And this is the majority of

I am clearly doing a lousy job of explaining it, because this is just not

Nobody but nobody says that women are chayav to perform mitzvos aseh
shehazman grama (well maybe the Conservative movement does, I don't really
know their position, but it seems to be implied by some of the debate around
at the moment).  A chiyuv means one *must* perform the action, unless one is
completely prevented by circumstances (ones) and *must* spend money to
ensure its performance, up to a fifth of one's money for a positive mitzvah
(Rema siman 656 si'if 1).  

Nobody says that if there is a choice between a lulav and a new dress, a
woman must choose to buy the lulav for sukkos.  The only dispute is that in
*some* cases, some of the tanaim hold that certain of the mitzvos (tallis
and tephillin primarily) that others characterise as mitzvos aseh shehazman
grama are not in fact time bound, with the consequence that, if they are not
in fact time bound, then the exemption of women that comes with time bound
mitzvos does not apply (so women are obligated just as men are).  But once
you agree that these are in fact time bound mitzvos, then nobody holds that
women are chayav.  The opposite of chayav is patur, and that is what
everybody agrees women are.

The question under dispute is therefore what is meant by "patur".  Does it
mean forbidden, ie assur, or does it mean permitted (and perhaps, although
not necessarily, encouraged).  That is the debate.

>Yes, subssequent discussion focuses on the corner-case consequences, the
cases where classifying a mitzvah as a reshes removes the justification for
overriding RH or shabbos. Because those are >the most interesting. Not
because the bulk of instances where women are preforming a mitzvah asei
shehazman gerama according to either posittion would involve an issur.

Certainly not according to Rashi, who holds Rabbi Yehuda's position to be
based on the issur of bal tosif.   Ie Rashi and those who follow him hold
that there is a basic prohibition on a woman who is patur from a mitzvah
performing it, due to a Torah prohibition.  That will apply in every single
case where women are patur (whether the common case of a time bound mitzvah,
or the other cases where women are patur based on individual scriptural

But even for those who disagree with Rashi regarding Rabbi Yehuda's reason
for prohibiting - we are not talking about a miut of cases that he
prohibits, but a miut of cases that he allows, ie the only two that are
identified as being in this category are lulav and sukkah.  And even lulav
only if the woman and the lulav happen to be in the same place at the time
without prior arrangement - clearly according to Rabbi Yehuda the lulav
cannot be brought through reshus harabbim or even a karmalis for her sake
(ie a man cannot take the lulav home if the sole purpose of doing so is to
bring it to his wife). And the Shaagas Areyeh holds (and certainly in this
regard his logic would seem sound) that if we followed Rabbi Yehuda the
gezera lest one carry in reshus harabbim would extend to women and lulavim
on Yom Tov and that therefore women would be prevented by rabbinic gezera
from performing the mitzvah of lulav in exactly the same way that men are so
prevented on shabbas.  Which leaves sukkah (which is a totally different
story, as perhaps it might even be necessary for women to be in the sukkah
for married men to fulfil their obligation of tashvu k'ain taduru properly,
independent of anything to do with the woman's own mitzvah).

>So R Meir and R' Yehudah, who in this miut of cases had a problem with
women fulfilling their reshus, are also minimizing even the mi'ut.

So no, it is not a miut - it is the majority of the cases where women are
deemed patur *if* you follow R' Meir and R' Yehuda.

>I was suggesting (with a "*maybe*") that the tannaim who argue the topic
kept the number of cases where common practice violated their position down
to a minimum because such shitos would be >implausible. And I think that
whole discussion, while interesting and informative, doesn't change my

Common practice when?  It seems pretty clear that common practice in Bavel
was for women not to perform mitzvos aseh shehazman grama - as it virtually
never comes up at all (the only one that does come up and it seems like they
may have been performing is tzitzis, eg Sukkah 11a has Rav Amram who has
made tzitzis for his wife and is then unsure if he made them properly coming
to Rav Chiya bar Rav Ashi without the gemora needing to comment,- but again
that might have been because he held that women were obligated in tzitzis ie
that it is not a mitzvah aseh shehazman grama). As this case of tzitzis
shows, if there was any regularity for women to do other mitzvos aseh
shenazman grama, they would have come up somewhere in the corpus - we do
indeed have Queen Helene sitting in her sukkah (Sukkah 2b), but that is
commented on and discussed as an unusual case, and her seven sons are
brought as giving an alternative justification.

 In the time and locations of Tosphos however it would seem that common
practice was different and women were generally performing mitzvos aseh
shehazman grama.  But part of the nature of halachic analysis is that one
has to have a halacha that fits all time periods.  Ie one can say that it is
permitted but not obligatory for women to do these, and hence what the women
were doing in the times of the Babylonian Talmud was OK, and what women were
doing in the times of Tosphos was OK, and maybe in the time of Tosphos there
was some need to take one permissible approach while in the times of the
Talmud there was no such need, but once you start saying that the halacha is
driven by the time, rather than that the halacha has within it the
flexibility to deal with and provide appropriate solutions for the time, it
seems to me you are considering the halacha as something less than divine.
It is a subtle difference, but to my mind an important one.




Go to top.

Message: 13
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2014 20:53:21 +0200
[Avodah] megillat esther and Persia

Jonathan (Yonatan) Grossman one of the respected lecturers on Tanach came
out very recently with a book on megillat Esther which is a shortened
version of the English

Esther: The Outer Narrative and the Hidden Reading
Jonathan Grossman

In the introduction he has a short discussion of when the story happens and
concurs with the standard historian theory that it was during the reign of
Xerxes. He notes that in fact at the end of the megillah achasverosh is
written as "Achsherosh" which is very close to the Persian name of Xerxes.
Furthermore in a documentfound in the Babylonian city of Sipur there is a
high Persian officer under Xerxes named Marduk.

His main poiunt is that the time of the story is not just incidental but in
fact impacts on the interpretation of the text. According to Chazal the
story takes places before the rebuilding of the Temple while according to
this theory it occurs some 30 years after the rebuilding of the second
Temple. In particular this implies that Mordechai and Esther and the other
Jews in Shushan did not go to EY at least at the beginning of the
resettlement there at the time of Cyrus.
In any case Nechemia describes how the Jews stopped giving Terumah and
Maaser because of the severe economic state. Nevertheless at the same time
the Jews in Shushan are enjoying themselves in the feast of Achashverosh. Note
also that Ezra states taht at the beginning of the reign of Achashverosh
they wrote an attack (sitnah) on the inhabitants of Yehudah and Jerusalem


On a slightly different note I saw in a history bookof Persia that it was
found a trilingual inscription on four column bases from Susa the follwoing

Artaxerxes the great king, king of kings king of peoples king on this earth
son od Darious the king Darius son of Artaxerxes the king, Xerxes son of
Darius the king Daius son of Hystapes the Archaemend proclaioms ...

This is clearly in line with the general hsotorical view and against Chazal
though we again note that in fact it is consistent with Ezra and Nechemia

On a separate issue I am bothered that according to Chazal the story takes
place before the rebuilding of the Temple. According to the end of the
Megillah Mordechai is appointed as Mishne LeMelech and Esther is seen to
have power. Nevertheless there is no hint in Ezra and Nehemia that the Jews
in EY have a patron in Shushan and on the contrary there position is quite
terrible in Israel. Even if Mordechai and Esther did not have the power to
rebuild the Temple nevertheless it would seem they could do something for
the Jews in Israel along the lines that Nechemia accomplished. In fact
according to one version Mordechai is Mordchai Bilshan that made aliyah as
an individual. ie he gave up all royal powers that could help to go to
Israel as a commoner. However, even in this scenario Esther remained in
Persia as Queen and the king knew she was Jewsih and did nothing to favor
the Jews in Israel even while helping the Jews in Persia against their


the Jews of EY and Persia. He claims that nowhere in the megillah does it
menstion 2 days of Purim the 14th and 15th, Rather there was a struggle
between different groups whether Purim should be on the 14th to stress the
Jews around the empire and EY in particular while the Jews of Shushan
wanted Purim to be on the 15th. Only later generations invented the
compromise of 2 days of Purim for different cities.

Eli Turkel
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